The Association of Retired Conservationists was organized by a group of retirees from the Wisconsin Conservation Department in the 1960's. By the mid-1970's, the WCD had been combined with the Department of Resource Development to form the Department of Natural Resources, and the retirees group had grown significantly, met monthly for lunch and began inviting speakers to address the group on issues of interest to the members. Today, the organization has more than two hundred members.

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What's New in 2024

ADDIS, James (Jim) T.

James (Jim) T. Addis, aged 86, passed away peacefully at Oakwood Village, Pioneer Prairie, on February 10, 2024, surrounded by his family and loving wife, Ann, after a long battle with cancer.

Jim was born in Sandusky, Ohio, to Joanne and Lloyd Nichols. He received a master's degree in Limnology from Ohio State University after conducting research on Lake Erie.

In 1974, Jim joined the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as a fisheries manager in the Southeast District. He quickly rose through the ranks, demonstrating exceptional leadership skills in various high-level administrative roles and successfully handling several complex and controversial natural resource management issues.

Jim was a dedicated Badger sports fan and a skilled photographer who generously donated his photographic talents to Habitat for Humanity and the Madison Mallards.

He is survived by his wife Ann, son Steven Addis, daughter Bonnie Cotton, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and numerous friends.

Memorial donations may be made to the Oakwood Hospice or the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.

ETF Customer Experience Project

As many of you know the Association of Retired Conservationists is a member of the Coalition of Annuitants, WICOA, an organization made up of 22 retired state employee organizations’ similar to ARC.

I am your ARC representative at WICOA and am providing these documents from the Employee Trust Funds. ETF is in the initial stages of conducting a Customer Experience survey regarding the services they provide to retirees.

Below are two links, the left is a presentation about their Customer Experience project, and the link to the right is a Customer Experience Survey.


Bob Schaefer

Customer Experience
Customer Experience

Besaw, Wayne

On January 1, 2024 Wayne F. Besaw, age 84 passed away at Theda Care Hospital Berlin with family by his side. His death was due to congestive heart disease. Wayne was born in Berlin, WI on August 21, 1939 to Charles and Eleanor (Freimark) Besaw. He attended St. Stanislaus Catholic School, Berlin High School (Class of 1958) and the University of WI-Stevens Point. On October 21, 1961, he married his high school sweetheart Joan Mlodzik at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Berlin. Together they had three sons and went on to celebrate 62 years of marriage.

Following Wayne's graduation from UW-Point in 1962, the couple moved to Berlin. Wayne became employed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources working in Fisheries at the Oshkosh location. A position became available a year later in Wildlife Management and he relocated to the Berlin regional DNR office.

One of his primary job functions was negotiating and acquiring land for the projects of Grand River Wildlife Area and the White River Marsh Wildlife Area. He also obtained game warden credentials and worked law enforcement during special hunting seasons.

He very much enjoyed his career with the DNR and working with the many people he met along the way. Wayne retired from the DNR in 1997 after 34 years of service and began another phase of his life known as “retirement”.

Those years were filled with spending fun times with his family, traveling with his wife and friends throughout Wisconsin and numerous trips to Branson, MO, reading, playing cards and taking many fishing trips to Green Lake and Lake Poygan along with several trips to the Canadian waters. Volunteering at the local food pantry, delivering mobile meals, participating in DNR projects such as water sampling on Lake Poygan and helping with various functions at All Saints Catholic church were other activities he enjoyed and did for many years. Wayne will be remembered by all who knew him as a caring, honest and law abiding person.

Wayne is survived by his loving wife, Joan; sons, Michael (Dawn) Besaw, Neshkoro, WI, Craig (Lori) Besaw, Plover, WI and John Besaw, Columbus, WI., grandchildren, Joshua (Kate) Besaw, Nashville, TN, Kendra (Tom) Crowell, Beaver Dam, WI, Ryan Besaw, Los Angeles, CA, Brett Besaw, Philadelphia, PA, Brianna Besaw, Plover, WI, Dayton Besaw, Columbus, WI, Ashlyn Besaw, Sun Prairie, WI, Olivia (Liam) Boswell, Sun Prairie, WI; and great-grandchildren, Finnelly, Weston and Leo. Also surviving is his sister-in-law Ina Mlodzik, Berlin, WI, nephews, nieces and many friends.

Wayne was preceeded in death by his parents, his brother, Lawrence Besaw; sister-in-law, Barbara Besaw; brother-in-law, Robert Mlodzik; and sister-in-law, Sally Jo Mlodzik.

In honoring Wayne's wishes, cremation has taken place and private funeral services will be held with inurnment at St. Stanislaus Cemetery.

In place of flowers a memorial has been established in Wayne’s memory.

Raftery, Ruth Ann

Ruth Ann Raftery, age 74 of Madison, WI passed away on Tuesday, December 12, 2023, at UW Hospital in Madison.

She was born on April 16, 1949, in Monroe, WI the daughter of Everett and Marian "Jackie" (Tollefson) Erickson. Ruth Ann graduated from New Glarus High School in 1967. She married Jim Raftery and they later divorced. She retired from the Wisconsin DNR after 37 years of service where she had been the section chief for licensing. Ruth enjoyed spending time with family and friends, their time spent together may have included dining out, hitting the casino, or shopping.

Ruth Ann is survived by her sister, Diane (Van) Loeffel; nieces: Jackie (Steve) Holcomb, and Amy Lipman; nephews: Brian (Shelly) Snider, and Mike (Nancy) Snider; great-nieces and great-nephews: Katelyn (Trent Siegenthaler) Thompson, Alyssa, Haylee, and Caitlin (Cole Xander) Holcomb, Sam (Ben) Lawfer, Steve (Kim) Snider, Jacob Lipman, and Taylor, Erica, and Lizzie Snider; great-great-nephew, Arlo (who she adored), along with two others on the way; and special friend, Mary Kay Heimann.

She was preceded in death by her parents; and sister, Kathie Snider.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 21, 2023, at the Zentner-Beal Funeral Home, 29 Sixth Ave., New Glarus, WI, with Mary Gafner officiating.

A gathering of relatives and friends will precede the memorial service from 9:00 a.m. until time of services on Thursday, December 21, 2023, at the Zentner-Beal Funeral Home in New Glarus.

Online condolences may be given at

Gene VanDyck Dodgeville Coach Extraordinaire

Gene VanDyck, former Fisheries Supervisor in Dodgeville, was recently featured in a Wisconsin PBS 'John McGivern's Main Street' series travel segment. Hear all about Gene's thirty year history of coaching girls softball.

Click Here to See the Program